Printed Circuit Boards: The Heart of Every Device

In this day of fast-paced technological changes, almost every person on the planet already owns a cellphone that functions as an alarm clock, a mini game console, a mini-computer that has full access to the internet and can stream videos in a matter of minutes, and so much more. Nobody wants a cellphone just for texting and calling anymore because everyone knows that today’s phones are more than mere communication solutions. But what everyone does not know or just seems to take for granted is that the improved capabilities of cellphones is due for the most part to the constant improvements on the printed circuit boards that lie at the very core of these devices.

Printed Circuit BoardsPrinted circuit boards or PCBs have come a long way from the first boards used in the 1950’s. But these boards still basically perform the same exact function of providing mechanical support for the electrical connections of a device, as well as providing room for an organized set of wires that do not take up too much space inside the device. The invention of the PCB has made it possible for manufacturers to reduce the size of the electronic devices that they manufacture.

However, despite the fact that printed circuit boards function as the heart of every electronic device, it should be noted that there is no standard way of designing the conductor pattern on the surface of the board. The pattern, as well as the various components that are going to be attached to this pattern, depends on the purpose for which the device is going to be used. PCB manufacturers also make use of two different methods for attaching components onto the surface of the board, also known as the substrate.

These methods are:

Surface-mount technology

This is the newer method of attaching components and it involves gluing the components onto the copper sheet of the substrate. Each component usually has tiny legs or caps that are connected to the surface with solder glue. Once all the components are glued in, the PCB is then heated in a specialized oven to melt the solder glue and make the components stick more securely.

Through-hole technology

This is the older method of attaching components onto the PCB substrate. The method makes use of the holes that have been pre-drilled on the substrate. Tiny wires that are often made of lead or tin are inserted onto these holes to attach the components on the surface of the board. The tips of the wires are then soldered onto solder pads that are attached to the back portion of board.

In some cases, a manufacturer might also make use of both these methods in attaching all the components. This is often done on printed circuit boards that are made out of multiple layers of laminated sheets of copper that would be used for bigger electronics or appliances. Mixing the two methods effectively ensures that the components are securely attached and are not prone to getting easily damaged.

Another thing that most people are not aware of is the fact that it is possible to turn PCB assembly into a hobby. All the interested hobbyist would need are the right tools for attaching the components onto the surface of the board. These tools include a sturdy soldering iron, small pliers, and a dentist’s probe. He would also have to have some basic knowledge of how electronic components work and communicate. When he has all of these, then the hobbyist can go to any electronics store and purchase the substrate layer and all other components from there.

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